Cruising down the street on his three-wheel bicycle, David Hieserich smiles and waves to cars passing by, soaking up the sunshine through his radiant attitude. The Breckenridge teen brightens my day by yelling “Bert!”, as I zoom by on my moped. He’s a beacon of bravery, seemingly unfazed by the Cerebral Palsy he’s dealt with since birth, appreciative of the opportunity to pedal past obstacles in his way.
Cerebral Palsy is a rare condition which affects less than 200,000 children per year. The disease manifests itself in different ways, one of which is rigid limbs and abnormal movements of the arms and legs. This becomes extremely apparent when David starts running, an activity the 20-year-old does at least twice a week.
"I love running because it just puts me in a zone, you know, where nothing else matters," Hieserich said.
Michael Randall convinced David to join cross country as a sophomore, where they both spent two years on the team. Striding through the open course, his knees are inverted while the bottom half of his legs bow out during what appears to be a painful motion. However, Dave feels free and fortunate, viewing his ability to jog as a blessing. It doesn’t matter where he finishes in a crowded field of runners, it matters that he continues to place one foot in front of the other. He's never lost a race, because he's not afraid to turn the key on life and keep going. Michael, along with Hunter Feigum, was also instrumental in Dave's desire to become the Breckenridge football manager for two seasons.
"David will give the shirt off his back just to make sure that you have one," Feigum said. "I don't know many guys who have the heart and dedication like David does. It could be 28 degrees and you know that Dave will be on the sidelines!"
Feigum and David became close friends while living across the street from each other, sharing a religious faith that helped them both in their daily lives. They have matching crosses tattooed on their forearms.
"Dave is one of the most religious people I know, and I respect him gratefully for that," Feigum said. "He's a blessing from God and he shows me that every day. I don't think there was a day we weren't over at each other's house and I can't thank God enough for giving me a brother that I never had."
David with Hunter Feigum
• Photo by Carol Colby
• Photo by Stacee Marohl-Manock
Dave Hieserich named BHS Booster of the Year. Also awarded @BreckSportsTalk Fan of the Year! Such a positive young man □
David was adopted by Dan and Laurie Hieserich from South Africa at eight months old, he's been in Breck ever since. He's taken the opportunity to fully immerse himself in the city's culture, never shying from the spotlight.
"I'm an outgoing, positive personality," Hieserich said. "I'm not one to just sit back and be that quiet guy, I'm always willing to be engaged. I'm eager to participate and I think everybody should be. You have to get yourself out there, it doesn't matter what it is that you're doing."
David's time as Breckenridge's baseball manager was a joy for everyone involved. David’s fastball doesn’t reach the plate, it’s not scorching at 80 miles per hour like his peers, but keeping the pitch count for his teammates and providing laughter on the bus ride home was a wholesome contribution to everyone around him.
“Nobody loved being part of the baseball team more than David. He was the ultimate Cowboy and still is,” Breckenridge coach Kevin Hiedeman said. "He’s extremely thoughtful, the first guy to wish you a happy birthday or happy new year. His enthusiasm is contagious and that made him an important part of our team.”
David was named Breck Sports Talk’s 2018 Fan of the Year. He was also chosen as Booster of the Year by the Breckenridge Backcourt Club. I had the privilege of driving Dave to the section basketball playoffs at Concordia College that year, where he stood front row in the student section, using his small frame to scream louder than anyone else for his hometown team. Throughout the years, Dave has hardly missed a game, with ride-share offers rolling in from local families.
"I wasn't expecting to get a ride for every game, I give credit to all the other people," Hieserich said. "Sometimes I didn't even ask for rides, but I already knew I was going to a game. I didn't care where it was, it was already lined up."
I remember going to open gym 10 years ago, where Dave would be shooting layups by himself, staying active per his usual regimen. He would join the shooting line, attempting to earn his spot in 5-on-5 games with the other kids. Although the shots were always short, Dave's effort was not. He just kept going.
"One of the big things I've always believed is just keep doing what you're doing and then some," Hieserich said. "When you've come so far, you don't want to lose what you've gained."
David's life goal is to return to school and study to become a social worker.
I wrote this story simply to reflect on and appreciate the impact David has had on Breckenridge school and sports, it's student body, and outer community. He's a real one, and we are better off for it.
David thanked his family, Hunter Feigum, The Manock Family, and all of his teammates for their unwavering support.